This might be the obvious post for today seeing that it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, but bear with me. I’ve been thinking about my reasons for a while and decided I needed to write them down today.
First, I’m thankful for writing because of the faith I follow. I wrote about why God says we should be thankful here. (http://thrivingingrace.com/thanksgiving/), but it’s not just because of what the Bible says that I say this. I found this quote by Anne Frank in Anne Frank’s Diary:The Graphic Adaptation by David Polonsky. “I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.” It’s easy to concentrate on the misery. Anne Frank could have. I do myself more than I should. But, when I go outside and especially when I write outside, I find I focus more on the reasons why I’m here, and the words come easily as I think about what I need to say.
I’m also thankful for writing because of the images that form in my head when I read the words on the page. There are so many lively and delightful words in the English language as E. E. Cummings says in the book E. E. Cummings by Susan Cheever. “I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of the trees and a blue dream of sky.” For me, the word “greenly” brings immediately to mind a bright, spring day. I’m sure we can all think of words that bring detailed images to our minds.
Another reason I’m thankful for writing is because it is done in solitude–I can see my own words on a page before anyone else can see them. I can reflect on the pain and happiness in my life by writing about it. I can also give thanks and pray as Victor Hugo says in his work Les Miserables. “To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.” It is such a lovely image for someone who needs solitude as I do.
I know this will seem diametrically opposite to what I just said, but I’m also thankful for writing because of my friends. While writing is done in solitude, writers could not make it without the support of their friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this in The Portable Emerson. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” All of you who have supported me with likes and comments on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in person have made me more aware of the power of words and how they can change people’s lives. I am grateful for your support and for the lessons learned as I’ve continued to move forward on this journey.
Finally, I’m thankful for writing because it does have the power to change the world. The words William Faulkner wrote in The Essential Faulkner about gratitude have helped to reset my mind about the nature of gratitude. “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I hope we can all remember to be grateful for everything we have, to help where we can, and to not judge others since we all have failed.
Cross-posted from my Thriving in Grace blog:
I looked at the date when I was on Facebook earlier. Not only is today the birthday of a very good friend, it is also the week before Halloween. This started me thinking about the holidays and what they have usually meant for me. I almost sighed audibly. Although my kids aren’t small anymore, I seem to do the same amount of running around in search of the perfect holiday. It is tiring, and there have been years when I’ve been exhausted at the end of December wondering where the time had gone. So naturally, I decided to turn this into a blog post. 🙂 These are the first sentences I wrote in my journal earlier. “Am I really looking forward to this year’s holiday season. I’m not sure at this point. For the last couple of years, I’ve felt like I’ve been slogging through the holidays. Not enough money, not enough time, running around to make sure everything gets done. I don’t want to be like that this year.”
Since I had some time to think about it, these are the thoughts I came up with. During the holidays, I want to be more intentional about my gratitude, about my serving, and about my reflection. It’s not just running around from place to place. It’s treating the whole time as an experience, one I might never have again. And if it’s something I might never have again, shouldn’t I live more in the moment? More in the gratitude. More in the serving. More in the reflection. More in the saying. More in the…playing. Yes, I said it–playing. I’ve heard it said many times that experiencing the holidays through the eyes of a child is the best way to get adults to slow down. I don’t have small children, but I am acquainted with several. In fact, I share a birthday with one of them which is also during this season. I’m looking forward to making memories with them during the next couple of months.
Another way I’m going to be more intentional about the holidays is through my writing. For those of you who don’t know, November is a month where many writers begin and hope to finish at least 50,000 words of a novel. It’s called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s been several years since I’ve participated, but this year, this year I need to write the words down, to get this idea out of my head and onto the screen. Writing is how I figure out my world, and the times when I sit down and write are the times I experience the most clarity about the world around me. So, writing during the first part of this holiday will be my second way of being intentional. Now, would I like to get to 50,000 words and finish? Sure, I would. But this year, I want the journey to be about the words and about the story. In other words, to live in the experience while it is happening.
Finally, and most importantly, I will focus on the words of my Lord and Savior as I slow down and really think about what this time of year means to me. It’s not the gifts. It’s not the parties. It’s not even the Christmas tree. I’ve had holiday seasons where there has been plenty of money, and seasons where money has been scarce. The seasons that have been the best though are the seasons I have focused on God–having gratitude for what He has given me and serving where He calls me to serve. Psalm 100 brings all this to mind and more. I leave you with this psalm as you seek your own ways to be more intentional during this holiday season.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Have a great day!